In a stunning reversal, Chicago prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett just weeks after he was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report.
NBC reports Smollett, 36, was seen arriving at a Chicago courtroom around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday for an emergency hearing. Following his court appearance, his attorneys released a statement saying that the actor’s “record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him.”
“Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement,” the statement read.
“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”
Smollett was charged earlier this month by a grand jury of 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report, according to a criminal complaint.
In February, he was charged with felony disorderly conduct after Chicago officers said he orchestrated his own alleged hate crime on himself in January because he was unhappy with his salary on the show “Empire.”
His role on the Fox series, where he played Jamal Lyon, was cut from the final episodes of the fifth season “to avoid further disruption on set,” the show’s executive producers said in a joint statement on Feb. 22.
Smollett had told police on January 29 that he was beaten up by two masked men while he was out getting food in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The actor, who is black and gay, said his attackers hurled racist and homophobic slurs before punching him, putting a noose around his neck and pouring what he said was bleach on him.
Brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo were arrested in February as police investigated the alleged assault but were later released by police. They are not considered suspects.
Smollett was then labeled as a suspect in his own alleged assault and arrested in February. Prosecutors and police said Smollett allegedly paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 via a check to attack him and also gave them money to buy the supplies they would need to carry out the hoax crime.
The actor and his attorneys have repeatedly denied the allegations against him. Mark Geragos, who represents Smollett, said in a statement to NBC News earlier this month that the indictment was “the prosecutorial overkill.”
“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records,” Geragos said.